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Program Notes & Synopses

Enhance your patrons’ experience with notes that highlight the music’s humanity and illuminate its depth. Choose from our wide selection of pre-written pieces or commission custom notes that complement your concert story.

Program Notes & Synopses

Enhance your patrons’ experience with notes that highlight the music’s humanity and illuminate its depths.

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Dvořák: Symphony No. 8

Dvořák: Symphony No. 8

25.00

281 words. (Recommended companion note: The Sound of the Czechs)
program notes by Chris Myers

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Copyright © 2016 Chris Myers. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution or reproduction prohibited.

Symphony No. 8 in G major, op. 88, B. 163
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
2 flutes (doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (doubling English horn), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, strings

Composed 1889. First performance: February 2, 1890, Prague. Antonín Dvořák, conductor.

I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio                                                
III. Allegretto grazioso – Molto vivace
IV. Allegro ma non troppo

In Bohemia, the trumpets never call to battle. They always call to the dance.
— Rafael Kubelik

Antonín Dvořák composed the Eighth Symphony at his summer retreat in celebration of his admission to the Prague Academy. The composer wanted to produce “a work which is different from the other symphonies, with individual ideas worked out in a new way.”

In seeking this “new way”, Dvořák backed away from the more rigid logic of his German symphonic training and produced a linear, free-flowing work that sounds almost improvisatory at times. The influence of his beloved Bohemian folk music is evident in the melodic material, as though he were filling the kettle of German symphonic form with Czech-flavored ingredients. Along the way, we encounter innovative orchestration techniques that anticipate Mahler in the way they allow melodic lines to flow uninterrupted through solo and chamber textures created from within the larger orchestral forces.

The piece begins with a movement in typical sonata form, though the themes unfold and flow into one another in an unusually natural way. A pastoral Adagio follows, introduced by a sublime string chorale that leads to a conversation between languid clarinets and birdlike flutes. A gentle waltz gives way to an energetic coda, at which point the trumpets announce the finale, calling us, as Kubelik said, to the dance!

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